She walked through the big wooden doors of the church she had avoided for most of her life. She was greeted by a sweet, older woman with a pretty blue dress and a welcoming handshake. “Good morning, Dear. My name is Florence. Welcome to First Baptist Church.”
Kimberly was skeptical about everything from Florence’s greeting, to the men in dark suits, to the pretty carpet in the foyer, to the pictures on the walls. She felt like she was in a foreign land where nothing was familiar or inviting.
Kimberly’s world was riddled with abuse of every kind, a childhood full of pain and chaos, months in jail, homelessness, and addictions that overtook her for years. She didn’t know where she fit in and this particular Sunday, she decided to take a huge leap and try “this religious thing”. Nothing else had worked for her or made her feel happy, so maybe God was the answer.
She slowly made her way into the sanctuary and sat in a pew in the back of the room. This place seemed huge, and as she sat in silence, she began to feel strangely safe. Maybe it was the big wooden cross on the platform or maybe it was the silence that brought her peace.
The music began over the loud speakers and the song was familiar to her. “Amazing Grace” was a hymn sung at her grandmother’s funeral several years ago and it brought Kimberly to tears. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”That’s ME”, she thought, “I am a wretch.” The song went on, “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” The lyrics began to flood Kimberly’s spirit and she started to weep uncontrollably. “I am lost and I want to see!”
Kimberly felt a touch on her shoulder. She looked up through her tears and saw Florence, the woman from the door. “Dear, can I help”? she said, as she gave her a tissue and sat in the pew beside Kimberly. That was the beginning of a new life for this tormented young woman as Florence extended the arms of Jesus by loving and accepting her, and eventually discipling her.
There are many people who are struggling and looking for answers. They are thirsty for something or Someone and need us to notice them, come alongside of them, and extend the arms of Jesus to them.
Look around you and let the Lord open your eyes and your heart. Like my dad used to tell me, “Ministry is ministry. Whoever or whatever God puts in front of you, give 100% and give Him all the glory”.